With a name like Language Barrier a listener might expect to have a musical disconnect from the artist. Fast or minimalistic lyrics can cause the purpose of a track to get lost, but shirlette ammons made sure to cover each point twice with both rap and pop tracks to reach any listener.
Nearly every other track is a retelling or rephrasing of the segue before it. Look at the tracklist:
- Earth Segue
- Earth Intro
- Dear Nora
- Language Barrier Segue
- Language Barrier
- Aviator Segue
- On the Road Segue
- On the Road
- Travel Light
Tracks 1, 4, 6 and 8 are segues into the next track.
There are both intentional and unintentional transitions. Most transitions that are experienced in music are unintentional, just a result of one song running out of music and lyrics to fill time. But ammons named these tracks “(blank) Segue” for a reason. The tracks connect to each other, often sharing lyrics and musical sounds.
“Earth Segue” and “Earth Intro” both feature the line, “Some say life’s a b*tch, I think that b*tch is a diva.”
I felt that I was experiencing a musical barrier from one track to the next. Half of the songs were clearly hip-hop based and much more lyrically heavy. The other half picked up the tempo and cut the lyrics to the bare necessities. For those that love hip-hop and can draw meaning from it, ammons created half of this album for you. For those that enjoy pop music, ammons has accommodated those listeners as well.
ammons even reaches German listeners, at least I think it’s German, on the title track segue. More than half of the track is spoken in a foreign language until ammons comes in with about a minute left to explain the track.
ammons finds a musical bridge from culture to culture. While most people’s arguments or conversations can only reach one set of ears, such as an argument for gay-marriage or racial-bias, ammons has created tracks to reach both sides of the discussion. It is brilliant and shows not just her lyrical accomplishments, but her versatility in rock, hip-hop and pop genres.
The first time I listened to the album, I was a bit lost on the intentions. I couldn’t get a complete grasp on who ammons was as an artist or whom she tried to reach. But upon a second, third, fourth and fifth listen to Language Barrier, I saw both sides of the album and the quality of the production.
While my forte is in rock music, I grew fascinated by this album’s transformation from track to track. One second I would be listening to a rock song and then I would be taken to a bubble-gum Japanese Pop-esk song without any warning.
It is a very real possibility that listeners will skip over every other track to reach their favorites. For most albums that would leave holes in any story that the band/artist tried to tell but ammons’ story retraces its steps. So skip away and listen to the tracks that you love. The story and impact will still reach you.